Tolerance towards LGBT+ people seen rising globally

Sonia Elks, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Posted at Nov 25 2019 02:58 PM

Same-sex marriage supporters carrying signs that read “Vote Can’t Be Defeated” gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan on May 17, 2019. Chiang Ying-ying, AP

LONDON - LGBT+ people have seen a rise in tolerance in almost every region of the world over the last decade, according to an index released on Monday.

Iceland was named as the most tolerant country towards LGBT+ people in a survey of 167 countries by British think-tank the Legatum Institute, while central Asian country Tajikistan was in last place.

"It is encouraging to see that our 2019 Prosperity Index shows a rise in tolerance towards the LGBT community globally over the past decade," Shaun Flanagan of the institute's Center for Metrics told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"However, the LGBT community, as well as other often marginalized groups, such as immigrants, ethnic minorities and religious groups, still face considerable persecution across certain parts of the world today."

The data is part of the 2019 Legatum Prosperity Index, which measures a host of factors affecting countries' ability to create wealth and wellbeing, ranging from investment environment to health and personal freedom.

Social tolerance towards minority groups increased in 111 of 167 countries over the last decade, and across every region except for Eastern Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa, it found.

The rise in acceptance of LGBT+ people was particularly marked, rising from about one in four people expressing acceptance a decade ago to almost a third in the latest report.

Tolerance towards LGBT+ people was measured according to responses to a Gallup poll that asked more than 130,000 people around the world whether their city or area was a good place for gay and lesbian people to live.

Top-ranking Iceland was followed by The Netherlands and Norway in the 2019 index, while Canada and Denmark took fourth and fifth place respectively.

Several of the least tolerant countries criminalize homosexuality, with penalties including a potential death sentence for men in Mauritania and Somalia, both in the bottom five.

However, legality did not always equal acceptance - lowest-ranked Tajikistan decriminalized gay sex in 1998 but LGBT+ people still face widespread discrimination.

It was followed by Somalia, Azerbaijan, Senegal and Mauritania in second to fourth last place respectively.